My friends and I “discovered” stand-up comedy in middle school. This was the 1980s, so we’re talking about things like repeated HBO airings of “Bill Cosby: Himself,” Steven Wright cassette tapes, and in my case, old Bob Newhart routines that one of my friends’ parents shared with us.
We ate this stuff up. And I think there’s a certain geekiness in meticulously quoting from and conversing in comedy bits, particularly if they’re the kind of dry, intelligent sort, or the real-life stuff, and not the easy “hey-this-seems-funny-because-it’s-astoundingly-vulgar” variety. (My junior high skill was specializing in re-creating Cosby’s trip to the dentist, which served me well when as a parent, I was able to impress my kid by easily speaking that Ubbi Dubbi launguage from “Zoom.”)
Now my daughter’s finishing up sixth grade, and she’s hit the age of appreciating the art of stand-up, too. It started with Jim Gaffigan‘s Comedy Central specials, specifically his bit about Hot Pockets. And now, I get to experience a great sort of generational echo in hearing her and a friend re-enact exchanges like, “Does your Hot Pocket come frozen in the middle?” “Yes, but it can also be served boiling lava hot.” And you can tell they’ve put as much effort into capturing the inflection and delivery as we used to. Brian Regan‘s special with his tales of Pop Tarts cooking instructions and Fig Newton overindulgence and visits to the optometrist has gone over big, too.
Admittedly, mixing stand-up comedy and kids is clearly an active-parenting thing – giving the specials a test-run before sharing them with our daughter is a no-debate must – and obviously, Your Mileage May Vary when it comes to taste and the limits that certain comedians push.
With the slimmed-down television offerings summer brings, I’m on the lookout for more comedy to share. (In addition to the classic “Twilight Zone” episodes we’re filling the DVR with, of course.) Demetri Martin definitely brings a nerdy air to his clever material, but it’s been awhile since I’ve watched his specials, so I’ll need a refresher. And Patton Oswalt, being a geek to the core himself, seems like he might have some appropriate material, though again, I’ve got some homework to do.
How about you, GeekDad readers? Who gets you and your kids howling together?